It's now the end of a very hard training cycle where not only I, but several of the refuse2quit team have peaked at our highest mileage and vert ever. Going into Saturday's Grandeur Peak Fun Run I think we were all ready to be done and rest up for the next couple of weeks prior to the Bryce 100.
The Grandeur Peak Fun Run is a local fatass event hosted by the MRC boys. It is now in it's 7th or so year and every year just seems to get better. For donations only they host one of the best events around. The course races 3200 vertical feet up with the west ridge to the summit of Grandeur Peak in only 2.3 miles. Runners then fly down the Church Fork trail until it meets up with the Pipeline, at which point they run a couple of miles to Rattlesnake Gulch, then up and over Bambi Hill, down the steep gully and around on well-traveled trails back to the start/finish where pancakes, bacon, eggs, donuts, hot chocolate, juice, and soda await finishers. Seriously, for donations only? It was well worth the $10 I gave. For a 10 mile race it is wicked hard, but every step is beautiful and fun.
I'll write on my own race, but I have the feeling that everyone else would have a similar report. I came into this race really tired, like dog tired. All I wanted was for it to be over so that I could focus on my taper, which I've decided is to basically do nothing. Ha. Matt and I drove to the start where were met up with the rest of the crew and tons of Wasatch Mountain Wranglers. Under threat of heavy rain we lingered while Erik Storheim counted down to a very uneventful start (just how a good trail race should be). MVH went out steady, but from may vantage point behind him he didn't appear to go out too hard. I went as fast as I thought my legs and lungs could handle it. Scott wasn't far behind me and Matt behind him.
When we hit the ridge the pack started to spread out a little within the first quarter of a mile. I got past by the three front women and a couple of guys and was sitting about 20 in back of the leader who was moving up the ridge like it was flat ground (Jason Dorais who would go onto smash the course record in 1:37:00). My calves felt like they were cement blocks and I hoped that they would loosen up the higher I got. I've recently started testing Mighty Might, a new dietary supplement meant to mimic the effects of high altitude training. As I moved further up the mountain my legs loosed up a little, but still felt heavy and I had to work hard to keep them progressing at a reasonable speed. My lungs, however, felt stronger and more open the farther I went. It was incredible. Not that Grandeur Peak is a tall mountain (something like 8200 ft), but I shouldn't have felt that good. About 3/4 of the way up we were engulfed in clouds and it got kind of eerie, but really cool. It still hadn't started raining and I was really starting to enjoy myself. I was also passing a few people and even came close to catching up with the three front women who were moving fast. I hit the summit in 56:40, my fastest ascent ever and started down Church Fork.
I was right behind a guy who took a quick wrong turn before I got him back on the trail. But it allowed me to pass, at which point I started into my "Oh S@$T, this is going to hurt" speed. It had now started raining, but the trail wasn't muddy, so I just let it open up. I passed another guy, then caught the lead women who let me pass. They made a comment about catching back up, which I full expected to happen once I hit the flat Pipeline trail. Going down Church Fork I passed another two people and then turned onto the Pipeline trail where the three last weeks of peak training all settled into my legs at the same time. It was all I could do to keep moving. And now it was absolutely pouring rain. I expected someone to pass me at any moment, but no one ever did.
I figured that Bambi Hill would be an absolute mudfest and it didn't disappoint. If you didn't grab trees to help you up you'd never have made it. I again felt like I'd get passed, but not only did that not happen, I actually caught up to the person in front of me. I passed him going down the very steep gully after, then passed another racer on the traverse trails, which were also super muddy. My legs were fried, but when I hit the finishing fire road I opened things up and dropped to a 6:30 pace. I knew if I could keep it together I had a shot of going under 2 hours. I raced down the finishing hill to the bottom in a final time of 1:59:24, my fastest loop time ever by more than a half hour. The first place woman came in about 2 min after me, and then people started to trickle in every minute or two after that.
MVH ran a wicked fast 50 min flat to the summit and a final time of 1:57:30ish.
Scott was next in after me around 1:22:30.
Then Matt after Scott around 1:29:00 (I think).
The rest of the Wasatch Mountain Wrangler crew came through before and after all of us at different times. It was awesome to finally meet people that I've only talked to online. Dan and Nick, it was a pleasure. It was also awesome having other great friends there too: Andrea, Mark, Erik, Jennilyn (didn't run but took lots of photos at the finish), and others. What an amazing morning and a great way to end my training. Now, all focus is on Bryce in less than two weeks.